Summer in the Catskills

This post will be a bit different from others. We just bought a place in the Catskills and are renting it out on AirBnb (check it out!). As we spend more time in the area, I plan to update this post. For now, I wanted to have a one-stop shop for all of our recommendations for hiking, swimming, and eating in the Hunter/Tannersville area. 

Hiking

We love hiking in the Catskills. There are so many truly awesome vistas just a short climb away. We’re slowly working our way through all of the area’s best hiking. So far, our two favorite hikes we’ve done are Huckleberry Point – a moderately challenging 4.5-mile out and back with incredible Hudson Valley views and Artist’s Rock/Sunset Rock – a harder 6.2-mile loop, also with fantastic Hudson Valley Views. A popular spot for painters, you may recognize the view made famous by the Hudson River School of artists.

Kaaterskill Falls is also worth a visit but parking for the trailhead is scarce and fills quickly in the summer, especially given limited parking for the areas swimming holes. There are various ways to hike to the falls. I haven’t personally done any of them (we parked in the lot that has since closed) so I don’t have a recommendation. A new trolley service started this summer offering all-day rides for $10 on weekends.

Devil’s Path, Overlook Mountain, and the Hunter Mountain Firetower are all on our list but we haven’t hiked them all yet. I think one of my goals is to work our way through this list of hikes. 

Swimming

After a long hot hike, swimming is the order of the day. Mother nature provides plenty of options from the area’s well-known swimming holes to various lakes. In our area, North-South Lake Campground and Day Use area has lifeguarded beaches at the two lakes. Rip Van Winkle Lake and park has a small guarded beach, kayak and paddle board rentals, a great bar and restaurant (The Boathouse – see below), and an awesome playground for kids. Lastly, there’s a small beach and swimming area in Dolan’s Lake, right at the base of Hunter Mountain.

Activities

There are many activities beyond swimming and hiking. At the mountain, Hunter offers the largest zipline canopy tour in North America. You can also take the Kaatskill Flyer scenic ride to the top of the mountain, where you can enjoy the views and go on a short hike to find Rip Van Winkle. Select weekends of the summer and fall, Hunter partners with Northeast Offroad Adventures for a really fun 4×4 off-road tour of the mountain. We’ve done it with our Jeep and it makes for a really great weekend! Nearby, Rip Van Winkle Ranch does ATV tours during the summer.

The area is also known for its great towns with cute downtown shopping districts filled with country stores, antiques, and quirky finds. Be sure to check out Tannersville, Catskill, Phoenicia, Windham, and Woodstock. 

Eating/Drinking

Hunter 

Our favorite spot in Hunter is Jagerberg Beer Hall & Alpine Tavern. The food is great and the beer list is impressive. They have great outdoor seating during the summer. Hunter Mountain Brewery is also a great spot, just down the road. For breakfast or lunch,  M&J Bagel, Bakery, and Deli has great bagels and sandwiches, but be prepared to wait for them. Van Winkles is in the Kaatskill Club at Hunter. It’s ok, but does seem to always be open which can be nice since a lot of places have limited hours during the off-season (basically, anytime that’s not July-October and January-March). Ronnie MacGregor’s Pub is a delightful locals-filled, cash-only bar with live music and karaoke. Also, Prospect at Scribner’s is supposed to be fantastic but we haven’t made it in to personally attest.

Tannersville

Just down the road in Tannersville, there are a lot of great options. Last Chance Restaurant has a diner-style endless menu, a seemingly bottomless beer list, and a country store. The attached Saloon gets rocking on winter weekends, with live music and good times. Jessie’s Harvest House on the edge of town is fantastic. We haven’t made it to Tabla yet, but we hear good things. The Boathouse at Rip Van Winkle park and lake has great food, margaritas, cold beer, and live music. And we can’t talk about dining in Tannersville without mentioning three classics – Mama’s Boy Burgers (and Ice Cream), Pancho Villa’s, a standard fare American-style Mexican restaurant, and Selena’s Diner. While everything else in town has turned over in the last two decades or recently arrived on the scene, these three are still going strong…

Further away, a few places we haven’t been to but want to go to include Rip Van Winkle Brew and the dining scene at Windham. Also, while we haven’t spent much time in Catskill yet, the tortas at La Casa Latina are so good I have to include them here.

Area Amenities

Golf – there are several courses in the area, the closes of which are Colonial Country Club (a 9-hole course open to the public) and Rip Van Winkle Country Club (another 9-hole course open to the public). 

Basketball – there’s a basketball court at Doolan’s Lake park at the bottom of Hunter Mountain and one at the Elementary School, available for use when school isn’t in session. 

Playgrounds – Hunter Elementary School’s playground is open to the public when school isn’t in session. There’s also an awesome playground at Rip Van Winkle Lake and Park.

Canoes/Kayaks/SUPs – Rentals are available at Rip Van Winkle Lake and park.

Getting around

In this area, you only have one option – Smiley’s Transport. The cash-only cab service has been around for as long as any of us can remember and somehow still has the same phone number from when I first started coming here over 15 years ago – 518.589.6533. In our experience, there are no Lyft/Uber drivers in the Hunter/Tannersville area. There’s also the aforementioned Kaaterskill Trolley.

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